- Politics and Social Issues
Take Responsibility for Mail Fraud
Scamming is a Common Problem
Although e-mail scams are the most common way these days that unsuspecting people are tricked into giving their information. Scams are everywhere and scammers continue to use the mail to do their mischief. The US Postal Service has identified 25 different scams that can come to us in the mail. Of the individuals who become victims of mail fraud, 30% of them get scammed a second time.
Just because you are not fooled by mail fraud, that does not mean that you shouldn't report it. Everyone is responsible for protecting vulnerable individuals from mail fraud. One of the most important things that we can do is to report every time that we receive one of these scams in the mail.
Know a Mail Scam when you see it!
Several years ago when my daughter was nine-years-old, she received a letter in the mail and was excited because with the letter came a check with instructions for doing some ‘investigative’ work for the company. All she had to do was cash the check and send most of the amount to a specific address via Western Union and she could keep about $300 dollars herself for the work that she had done. I knew immediately that it was a scam.
I explained her that if she followed through with the instructions on the letter, she would have found that her bank account (If she had one which she does not) would have cleared the check. She would have gone to Western Union, sent the money to the address suggested then a few days later her bank would call her telling her that the check had not cleared the other back and that she owed her bank the difference.
Report Mail Fraud
When my daughter asked what we should do about it, my husband suggested that we just throw it away. I said, “No, way, someone needs to investigate this. This is a crime, if we don’t turn this in someone else could be hurt by this scam.”
But who should we turn the letter in to investigate it? I thought first that we should turn it into the sheriff’s office but then I remembered that it was mail fraud so I decided my best option was to take it to the Post Office. I reasoned that if they didn’t handle it themselves, they could direct me to someone who could.
I took it to the Post Office and the Post Master looked at it. Yes, she agreed, it was a scam and said that she would turn it into the Postal Investigators. The process could not have been easier. I didn’t need to fill out any papers all I did was hand her the evidence.
Reporting is Empowerment
The investigations by the Postal Inspection Service aren’t limited to snail mail. In response to the growing incidents of internet scams the Postal Inspection Service formed the Internet Mail fraud initiative which trains Postal Inspectors across the county on specialized techniques and strategies that target cyber-scammers. Postal Inspectors also work with analyst at the internet fraud complaint center, the Federal Track Commissions Consumer Sentinel and the Postal Inspector’s Services Fraud Complaint System (FCS), soliciting and receiving fraud referrals for investigation attention. A major outcome of the Internet Mail Fraud Initiative was that the FCS was enhanced to receive online complaints directly from internet users.
In order for mail fraud to be investigated, the investigators need evidence to work with and that’s where we come in. Mail fraud is a federal offence and you not only have the right to expect the criminals conducting mail fraud to be convicted, we have a responsibility to help bring them to justice. These people are trying to steal our hard earned money! It’s no different than if someone broke into our home and tried to steal from us. If we catch them before they have stolen from us, they are still guilty of trying to steal from us and we of course would call the police and have them arrested. We should expect no less when people try to scam us.
We Won't Let Others Be Victims Either!
By reporting this type of scam to the Post Office, we are also helping protect others from being future victims. There are so many people out there who are easily influenced these days especially. “Oh, I don’t want to get involved” has kept more criminals on the streets than all the best defense attorneys in the world. These scams prey on the fact that there are so many out of work or underemployed and looking for opportunities to relieve them of their financial burdens. Ignoring the problem is like being an accessory to the crime. It’s like the saying “Evil flourishes when good people stand by and do nothing.” A society is judged by how it protects its most vulnerable members.
By reporting these scams we shout from the roof tops that we won’t be victimized. We announce to the world that we will not only not be victimized but we are here to help prevent others from being victimized as well and that is empowering!
USPS Publication 300-A - Guide to Preventing Mail Fraud
© 2010 Donna Brown